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Why I love Charcoal Essential Therapy and their honest approach to beauty


I've been going to beauty salons since I was 10 years old. This was the age my mother first took me to get my brows looked after and for a file and paint. I know 10 years old is CRAZY young but hey, it was back in the day. In the 13 years since, I'd estimate that I've been to at least 50 different salons. That's a lot of people having different opinions on what the best products are. For me (and I'm sure many of you reading this), it comes to the point where beauty treatments are more of a necessity than a luxury. Making sure my eyebrows don't meet in the middle is definitely in the best interest of the general public.

I was recently invited to Charcoal Essential Therapy on the Blacks Road to discover what they were all about. I instantly fell in love. Firstly, the salon is just off the motorway, has a private entrance behind the garage (excellent for when you have just had your waxing done and don't want to run into your ex-boyfriend/cousin's best friend etc) and it's easy and free to park. All bonuses before I even get into the salon. The salon is up one flight of stairs and is all based on one level. The salon is airy but not intimidating. The simple decor and private rooms make it easy to feel relaxed in the environment. On my first visit to Charcoal, I had my nails done. They use Cuccio products in the salon which are all very high quality. I opted for a grey gel polish by the brand but prior to putting this on my nails, they also put two layers of base gel down. This means the colour lasts even longer (the picture above is of my nails 2 weeks after getting it done and they are still perfect!). On my first trip to the salon, Monica looked after me. She was lovely and we had a great laugh whilst she was doing my nails. I also met the owner Roberta on my visit. She was so kind and gave me some of their best loved products to try out. 

My favourites of these products are pictured above. Firstly, their own brand of lip-balms are fab. The simple packaging makes it easy to throw in your handbag and the gorgeous white chocolate scent definitely encourages me to use it! There were also little samples of the Cuccio Butter in my goodie bag. I had used this years ago and honestly had forgotten how much I love it. I am very strange about scents of body creams but I love all of the Cuccio scents. The cream is so nourishing and I've been using this little tube as a hand cream. Roberta also put in an HD Brows pencil for me to try. The salon do HD Brows and also sell all of their retail products. I was a fan of their brow powder and the pencil is almost a powder in stick format. Therefore I love it and it's  my new favourite. It also has a sharpener on the end making it perfect for girls on the go. I use the shade Vamp and it's a strong brown. The only way it could be improved was if it had a spoolie on the end. Then it would be PERFECT! Lastly, Waxperts Ingrown Hair Pads. They do what they say on the label. Great for dark girls like me who are prone to them but also make a great exfoliator because they contain lots of salicylic acid. 

I loved Charcoal so much that the following week, I went back for a pedicure. When I was there having my nails done I saw the pedicure seat. It's a high back massage chair with the foot spa built it. I knew I needed to have a go! My pedicure by Roberta was so fantastic, again using all Cuccio products. I particularly liked the scrub which made my feet feel super soft. It would be a great one to buy for any avid fake tan users. Roberta also sorted out my brows when I was there (wax and tint) and so many people have commented on them since. They are a natural shape and very dark meaning I have little to do to them!

Charcoal Essential Therapy is honestly one of the best salons I've ever been to. They are well known for their waxing treatments and I can't wait to go back and try these out. Thank you to Roberta and Monica for looking after me.

For more information, visit their websiteFacebook or call 028 90 611403 to book. 

Selfie Destruction


Over the past four years of my blogging career (I owned a semi-successful student blog before That Belfast Girl), I've become fairly used to taking pictures of myself. Selfies, have always been a love of mine. I have so many from hilarious nights out and of fun birthdays. But I also have a wide array of me with numerous products on my face. I'm not a model, nor would I ever want to be but often to show the product off best, I need to show it on my actual face. 

There's a misconception that bloggers are very confident. I speak only for myself when I say that I've always had self-confidence issues. I need so much reassurance about things and most of all, with the way I look. I'm sure there's a string of issues behind it but I don't ever remember looking at a picture of myself and thinking "I look fab". Like most women, I hide my insecurities fairly well but there comes a point when they seem to mount on you and you start to worry. If you saw my post 'Lip drama' from last week, you will have witnessed one such occasion. Over the past six months I've increasingly seen my self-confidence go from low to rock bottom. I've spent hours looking up skin treatments, semi-permanent makeup, cosmetic fillers and even invasive cosmetic procedures. I do put this down to constantly thinking I'm not good enough for my reader, to post a picture for thousands of people to see. But like I said before, I'm not a model. I'm a normal girl who loves lipstick as much as she loves pizza and ice-cream. 

This week, some sort of light bulb went off in my head. Why was I doing this to myself? If I already have low confidence, why would I think that all of these physical things would change how I feel in my heart? Would my face, if it was perfect and flawless make me any happier? And I know the answer is no. If you are reading this and are one of the many amazing readers that constantly gives me support and compliments, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Women need to do that more. But what about when I'm wearing sweats, I have third day hair, I'm on my period and I've no makeup on? No one is going to tell me how fab I am then because let's be honest, I'm not looking so hot. So I have decided I'm going to tell myself how fab I am. Life is too bloody short. I'm fab because I'm on my third degree. I'm fab because I've made a business out of something I love. 

Selfie culture has really started to disturb me and I see some of my friend's kids who post Instagram selfies of themselves. I wonder do they look at my selfies of me made up to the nines and think that is what they have to look like? I've put a picture of me as a little girl on this post because I think back to being a kid. You thought you were fabulous, not really because people told you, just because you knew you were. You had a big world to explore and a 10p mix up made your day. I look at my little girl self and she looks so happy and beautiful because I wasn't concerned about what I looked like or more importantly, what people thought of what I looked like. 

So from now on, I want to embrace who I am and not worry so much about the stupid perfect selfie. When you see a selfie, remember it can be edited. Remember that all photos can be photoshopped- even if it's just on a blog and not in an issue of Vogue. 

I will finish with this. I recently told my friend's daughter if you look fab, you feel fab. I then realised it's really the other way around. You need to feel fab on the inside about yourself and outwardly, people will recognise the confidence and pride you have of your achievements and abilities, not just of your physical appearance. 

I'm on a path to build my confidence once and for all and I'd love you all to join with me on it. Join the conversation at #SelfieDestruction on Twitter @GemmaLEBond or Facebook www.facebook.com/thatbelfastgirlblog